Or – “So, I Don’t Know If You’ve Heard About This…”
Mutants, mind-control, and the wedding of the year. It’s the Major Spoilers review of Astonishing X-Men #51!
ASTONISHING X-MEN #51
Writer: Majorie Liu
Penciler: Mike Perkins
Inker(s): Perkins w/Andrew Hennessy
Colorist(s): Andy Troy, Jim Charalampidis & Rachell Rosenberg
Letterer(s): VC’s Caramagna, Petit & Cowles
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously, in Astonishing X-Men: In the wake of the Schism, Wolverine and Cyclops have parted ways, with each trying to run the X-Men the way he sees fit. To that end, Wolverine has created a new team, featuring Iceman, Gambit, Northstar, Cecilia Reyes, Karma and someone called Warbird into a cohesive unit. Things have been a little bit hectic of late, but adding to the chaos is Northstar’s proposal to his partner Kyle, a proposal to which Kyle said no. The day got worse, though, as Northstar not only had to fight his teammates, but also a mind-controlled Kyle! (This is why Superman keeps his identity secret, folks.)
FIGHTY-FIGHTY AND FAMILIAR FACES
The issue opens on the morning of a wedding, even though Kyle said “NO!” last issue, and to the creative teams credit, they don’t play the “Will they or won’t they?” card, something that would be especially obnoxious given that the solicitations for this issue have been a talking point for a couple of months now. The scenes of the wedding are intercut with
Ted telling the kids how he met Northstar the end of last issue’s cliffhanger, and there’s some nice character work at play in both portions of the story. In a lovely touch, writer Marjorie Liu doesn’t forget about Northstar’s history or his other team/family, as the members of Alpha Flight play roles in the story, and there’s a completely adorable moment between Jean-Paul and his twin sister Jeanne-Marie which is both incredibly touching and true-to-life, as she irritates the hell out of him on the day of his wedding. There are literally dozens of cameos throughout the book, and I appreciate the fact that the creative team is willing to admit that Northstar’s same-gender marriage is an issue, with one teammate refusing to attend and even self-described “progressive guy” Puck having to expand his horizons accordingly…
AT LEAST THERE WASN’T A VILLAIN ATTACK…
There isn’t a lot of action to be had here, save for a little bit at the beginning and a last-page shock that many people have been waiting to see for years. On the art front, this is a good-looking issue, with a couple of sequences bordering on poetic (notably the moment of the kiss is very well-handle) but I’m troubled by the fact that Storm and Wolverine seem much older than I expect them to. Facial expressions especially seem to be problematic throughout the issue, and there are a number of cameos by people that I’m sure I should recognize, but I don’t. (Whether that’s the fault of the art or of my boundaries is, at this moment, unclear.) The folding of ongoing plot (Is Karma going bug$&@ crazy?) in is acceptable enough, and Liu clearly has a handle on the fact that X-Men is, historically, the story of people who talk funny having feelings and punching one another repeatedly, delivering a nice classic Claremont vibe and hitting the right notes with the wedding.
THE VERDICT: I WASN’T UNHAPPY…
Reviewing an x-book is always difficult for me, as I have a fear of getting involved in a story and having it disappear into crossover madness or evaporate (X-Factor, X-Statix, Joss Whedon’s run on this very title), leaving me with nothing but Iceman and Rogue. Treating Northstar as a character with history, bringing in his family AND Kyle’s, addressing the strangeness of mutants and the attendees’ questions about a gay wedding all leads to a book that could have been talky and boring. That bullet was dodged, though I’m not sure that I’ll be back to find out what happens next issue with Karma and all, this is an enjoyable enough reading experience. Astonishing X-Men #51 is a commendable act by Marvel, one that I hope leads to a higher profile for Northstar (an under-used and great character in Marvel’s vast library), earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.
About Matthew Peterson
Were pop culture a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Matthew still enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear. Surprise. Ruthless efficiency. An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture. And a nice red uniform.